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Rock-And-Roll, Minus Drugs and Sex, In For ‘Straight-Edge’ Teens

Straight-Edgers may not be walking the traditional “straight and narrow” in every way, but this breed of teen thinks it is cool to be drug-, alcohol- and smoke-free.

Young punk and hardcore music fans started the trend in the 1980s, and the Straight-Edge philosophy is gaining momentum again, according to a recent report by the Associated Press.

Straight-Edgers are a varied group, but their main tenets are to abstain from mind-altering substances, smoking and promiscuous sex. Beyond that, Straight-Edgers can also be vegetarians, political activists, animal-rights advocates, pacifists, pierced and tattooed.
Known by the abbreviation “sXe,” this new breed of Straight-Edge youth is trying to claim a more positive image than its predecessor.

Police came to view the movement as a gang in the 1990s after some Straight-Edgers turned violent. Two followers were convicted in a 1998 killing stemming from a street brawl in downtown Salt Lake City.

While endorsing various causes ranging from environmentalism to racial diversity, Straight-Edgers share a love of hardcore and punk music.

Straight-edge.com credits a song by Ian Mackaye, singer for Minor Threat, with coining the Straight-Edge term. Minor Threat is long gone, but since its demise, a growing number of disenchanted young men and women have used the Straight-Edge blueprint to better themselves and the world around them, the Web site says.

Xsisterhoodx.com is another Web site promoting the Straight-Edge lifestyle. It is geared towards young women in the hardcore music scene. The site offers a virtual community where Straight-Edgers—guys and girls alike—can share artwork, photography, poetry, articles, ideas, etc.

StraightEdgeOnline.org says Straight-Edge has been referred to as many things including “a lifestyle, a personal choice, even a movement.”
Some even compare it to a religion.

Calling her Straight-Edge life “something like a religion,” Anna Tran, a 21-year-old University of Utah student, told AP that, “Being Straight Edge should open your eyes to different points of view, open your eyes to view life on a deeper level.”

Aside from thriving online in a world of message boards and resources, at least one school, Wheaten College in Norton, Mass., has sanctioned a school-owned residence for Straight-Edgers.

Senior Geoff Bickford and six others formed the so-called “X” house “to offer some sort of sanctuary to ourselves and others who want to escape the typical weekend activities of a college town,” Bickford told AP.

Bickford sees it as a cause worth promoting. “If kids are taking care of themselves and living positively,” he said, “I can’t see a downfall to that.”

Jodi Mathews is news writer for EthicsDaily.com